China’s 9 Air spreads its wings in Mandalay

One of China’s most popular airlines, 9 Air, began a Guangzhou-Mandalay route last week, boosting the country’s sagging tourism industry amid increasing interest in the jade market.

From October 2, the airline started direct flights between the two cities three times a week, on Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday, according to Ji Guangping, chief of 9 Air.

“Mandalay is a primary location where jade and amber is produced. Chinese traders are very much interested to go there. Moreover, regular travellers from China also prefer going to Southeast Asia, so we want to take them to Mandalay.

We want to show everyone the beautiful attractions here,” Ji said at the launch of the service.

9 Air is a popular domestic airline in China. The Guangzhou-Mandalay route is the first international venture of the airline.

Ji said the decision to open direct flights between the two cities was influenced by the growing number of Chinese travellers to Myanmar.

9 Air uses a Boeing 737-86X passenger jet on the route that can accommodate about 185 passengers.

Ji said many of the passengers who come to Mandalay are Chinese businessmen and entrepreneurs who want to tap into Myanmar’s jade and amber market. The airline also aims to entice Myanmar entrepreneurs to explore opportunities in China.

Currently, five domestic airlines and 10 foreign airlines operate at Mandalay International Airport, servicing 12 local routes and 6 routes to international countries, said U Nyan Tun, head of the airport.

Mandalay International was built in 1996 with a runway that has two layers of concrete and cost K8.05 billion (US$5.27 million). The total cost of the airport, including its terminal and facilities, was $150 million, U Nyan Tun said.

MC-Jalux Airport Services Co Ltd signed a 30-year contract to carry out development and provide services at the airport with the Department of Civil Aviation in 2015.


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